We are becoming more and more healthy aware. As we learn more about what is and is not good for us, we have discovered that natural does not equal safe. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that is used by plants during the day to live. It is also a greenhouse gas and too much of it in our atmosphere is the reason the climate of the planet is changing so rapidly. Radon is natural, too but it is also dangerous. This is the reason so many residential radon testing companies have popped up around the country.
What is radon?
In 1900, German chemist Friedrich Ernst Dorn, first discovered radon. He was researching radium’s decay chain. He named the substance he discovered “niton” after the Latin word, “nitens,” which means shining. In 1923, the substance was renamed radon. The decay of radium is the primary source of radon, even today.
When it is at a typical room or outdoor temperature, radon exists as an invisible gas that has no odor nor taste. It is highly radioactive. Radon glows yellow when it is cooled to a its solid state. When the temperature of radon is further reduced, it becomes more of an orangish red.
The main form of radiation that is released through the decay of alpha radiation. Generally, alpha radiation particles are easily stopped so it is not considered to be a big radiological hazard. The problem with radon is that it is a gas and can be easily inhaled by people and other living creatures. When living tissue is exposed to radon and the alpha radiation it produces, there are often big problems. This is why there are so many residential radon testing and inspection companies around the country.
Radon has a short half life. It is about 3.8 days. The substances that are produced when radon decays have longer half lives and can be deposited on particles like dust and then they can also be inhaled by people and pets.
Why do I need to care?
Radon causes cancer. At least 20,000 lung cancer deaths can be attributed to radon exposure, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of the Surgeon General. The Office of the Surgeon General has reported that radon gas exposure is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking.
What should I do?
Radon gas is released during the sixth step of the 14 step process in the decay of the element uranium. Uranium is found all over the planet in the Earth’s crust. As a consequence, elevated radon gas levels have been found in homes in every state in the country. It has been estimated that at least one in 15 American homes have levels of radon gas that would be deemed as actionable by the EPA. If you own a home, you need to have a residential radon testing contractor look at the levels of radon gas in your home.
If the residential radon testing company finds high levels of the gas in your home, you should call the EPA and get a list of local radon mitigation and abatement services that can help you rid you home of the dangerous gas. They can work with you to devise plans to keep it from getting back in.
You will need to have your home tested for radon gas more than once. Just because there is no radon in your home today does not mean there will be done next year. Talk to the residential radon testing company about how often you should have your home tested.
How does it get into my house?
Radon gas is not a big deal in the environment because it dissipates through the atmosphere. Because it may be in the soil that is all around your home, it can get in through cracks in your foundation or through your sump pump, if you have one. You can take steps to keep it out. You should watch your foundation for any cracks that develop and seal or fix them as they appear. You can put a cap on your sump pump to keep it from entering that way. Ventilate your crawl space, if you have one.